Over my one-day weekend to milk the last of the “I’m just jet-lagged” excuse, I decided to listen to music I don’t know. I had just come out of a music conference crawling with independent artists, so didn’t that make sense? Thanks to midem, three artists have slowed my blood and calmed me down:
Cannes was awash in grey rain and grey skies when I touched down. Clearly my German cabmate was not as interested in small talk as I was, even though, hello, my trip required four times’ the distance of his, not too mention multiple hops and jumps over time zones.
I looked outside instead, playing my connect-the-rain-drops game. Once we got into the city I tried to read as much as possible, as many signs as I could. It took me a couple of repetitions of each to recall the English definitions for soldes and demarque. We reached a point where I knew we were circling (My hotel’s address did not match where the actual front door was. Oh, European travel hiccups. I know your kind!), but knowing I wouldn’t have to pay or tip, I didn’t mind. “Take your time, monsieur.” We circled ’round a cobblestone parking lot a second time when I saw a melancholy or possibly lost-looking youth standing on one of the corners. He was particularly misshaven, wearing a brown leather jacket over a carefully worn-in Nirvana T-shirt. I saw him and I immediately thought “So French.”
That evening at The Orchard’s 15th anniversary, I was stopped because of my hair and yelled “I’m from San Francisco!” in response to “Where are you from?”
The owner of a brown leather jacket whipped around, pointed at me, and said, “You know what’s a really good beer? Anchor Steam.” And that’s when I met Eamon McGrath, survivor of a hellish layover in Heathrow, wearer of a worn-in Nirvana T-shirt, and not a Frenchman. McGrath is a moody sometimes-folk, sometimes-punk vocalist and guitarist, part of the Canada Blast lineup at Morrison’s over the weekend. While I missed his set, being at home where the Wi-Fi is reliable has allowed me to catch up on the stories of his travels. Though they were nightmarish for him, they’re hilarious to read! May his future strokes of luck and misfortunes lead to more great music.
(As it turns out, the gentleman who had asked me about my hair is the founder of McGrath’s label, White Whale. So I guess McGrath injecting himself into our yellversation wasn’t that out of the blue.)
Irish-Malaysian brother and sister Salim and Aminah make the Dublin-based band Madu. Aminah’s voice has been a welcome, cozy cushion while I’ve been trying to alleviate my shin and mind of Economy Class Syndrome. (It’s a blessing to be able to sleep for six hours-plus on a plane without any medical aids, but in the end, that’s six hours of not walking around.) It reminds me of Res, if Res were more outwardly Rastafarian. The sounds are supple, credit to producer Salim. As I’ve never been to Dublin, all I can say is, Oakland would love them.
It just so happened that Salim and Aminah came to both of my talks at midem, and I’m really glad they stopped by. We talked business, of course, but then Aminah told me where to go check out some sneakers in Cannes. I like down-to-earth people like that.
You can check out their album, From the Elders’ Yard, and if you like it, pay what you like.
That French singer Emilie Chick is represented by Unicum is a statement in itself. The label (also French) only works with artists who are truly unique. (They handle the European market for OK GO.) In the end, this makes all of Unicum’s artists refreshing, and Chick has been just that. She’s got this soulful funky, jazzy thing going on, plus an oh-so-French accordion. (I’d also like to know where she got that T-shirt with a bombshell with a Crayola marker in her mouth. The French! They even do casual better than we do!)
Emilie Chick is currently raising funds for her new EP, From Egg to Chick, on Oocto (France’s Kickstarter). If you’re looking for more from Emilie Chick, click here (coupon inside) to tell Target to start carrying her album!